Welcome to The Truda Report everybody. Today I want to look at the two undefeated teams left in the NFL through a quarter of the season: the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs. Which of the two can we expect to stay undefeated longest, what's the outlook for these teams the rest of the year, and are either of them legitimate Super Bowl contenders? I'll break down all of that in this article. Make sure to share this post and leave suggestions for future topics below, and check back frequently for more articles.
Los Angeles Rams:
The Rams this year were my Super Bowl favorites before the preseason even started, and their 4-0 start is not doing anything to change my mind. This offense which went from worst to first last year is not slowing down, as they've posted 33, 34, 35, and 38 points in the first four games. This was to be expected though, as what was already a dominant offense has another year of experience under young QB Jared Goff's belt, and they added possibly the best deep threat in the league in Brandin Cooks. The defense is where changes were really made this offseason, as the team added two Pro Bowl cornerbacks and the second best defensive tackle in the league (to pair with the number one DT in the league of course). Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Ndamukong Suh are all game changers on their own, and adding them to what was already a respectable defense has put it over the top. Against Jon Gruden's offense the Rams defense held the Raiders to 13 points, they shut out the Cardinals, and they allowed 23 to a very good Los Angeles Chargers offense, but the defense should get credit because they held the Bolts to only a field goal in the fourth quarter allowing the Rams to hold the lead and win the game. The outlier game was Week 4 against the Minnesota Vikings, another top 10 team in the NFL. I don't take too much stock in Thursday games though, because short weeks can mess with a team's preparation and health. The Rams dominance on both sides of the football in the first three games should be expected throughout the entire season as this is a stacked roster with a brilliant young head coach, and the Rams could easily be a threat to stay undefeated throughout the rest of the regular season.
Where do these expectations and L.A.'s performances so far put the Rams as the season moves forward though? I think that this team is too talented to hit a real rough patch, but if that were to happen, that's where issues could arise. With a roster filled to the brim with large personalities and stars and a coach younger than some of the players on his team, if L.A. were to for some reason drop a couple games in a row, which is really inexplicable the way this team should perform and has been playing, there could be issues with the cohesiveness of the locker room. It's been shown time and time again that a stable locker room means much more than talent (the Dolphins this season being an example of this, as despite having just been blown out by the Patriots their 3-0 start can largely be credited to locker room changes this offseason and selfless play all over the offense and defense) so really the only thing that can take down the Rams at this point is themselves.
As I mentioned earlier, the Rams have been my Super Bowl pick since the beginning of the year. I haven't seen a roster this stacked in my lifetime, and I haven't seen a coach turn a team around so abruptly in just one year. The Rams have shown themselves to be the real deal on offense once again this year, and their weapons are too much to deal with. Defensively, I think there are just too many playmakers on the roster to account for to really be able to exploit the unit. Suh is a player that's been double teamed his entire career, Donald has always been double teamed, and Talib and Peters have lived on islands in recent memory. That basically means L.A. has so much talent that on any given day their best players, who are capable of fending for themselves, are drawing an opposing teams attention through game planning leaving the other Pro Bowlers with help from the other players on the roster. Opposing teams basically have to pick their poison as they either devote time to stopping the L.A. defensive line leaving the secondary with less people to cover, leaving you with easy coverage for the Rams, or you devote time to finding weaknesses in the coverage, which is good enough to allow for the pass rush to get home. The Rams just look and play unstoppable, and they continue to be my Super Bowl favorites. This team is number one on every power rankings I've seen this week, and it deserves to be that way.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Kansas City, I hate to say it, is exactly where I thought they'd be at this point in the year. I wasn't sure they'd be undefeated, but I knew they'd at least be a three win team right now. I've been a believer in Patrick Mahomes all offseason, because he had time to develop behind a very good QB in Alex Smith last year, and then Andy Reid would design an offense utilizing the seemingly endless weapons this offense has. For context, Mahomes, who many scrambled to pick up on waivers in their fantasy leagues, I had drafted in the 10th round with complete confidence I'd found the breakout player of the year. To get back to what I mean when I say they're exactly where I thought they'd be--that is not a happy statement. As a Dolphins fan, I want to see a team that can prove to be a threat to the New England Patriots every year, and Kansas City has yet to prove to me with complete confidence that they are that team. The offense has been unstoppable, scoring opening drive touchdowns in three of the first four weeks (they kicked a field goal in the other game), and ending all four games 38, 42, 38, 27 in order. The defense, though, continues to look like an Andy Reid defense which is what has me scared. They allow chunk yardage like it's Christmas Day for the other team, basically gifting opposing offenses with huge running lanes and more times than not an open receiver way downfield. The secondary is a big issue, and it's something that good teams will be able to take advantage of against them. That's something that slowed down last years Chiefs who also started hot, and I'm scared that we're close to the part of the year where Andy Reid's team hits a rough patch. I don't see this team staying undefeated much longer, although in no way do they stop being a threat to win their division week in and week out.
The Chiefs look good to keep up their offensive success the rest of the year, and I think that's something that can be believed after Mahomes has proved his dominance and poise through this first quarter of the year. The defense though is what'll eventually be the Chiefs end. I think the team will win the AFC West, but depending on who they meet in the Playoffs there could be issues. As we saw last night against the Denver Broncos (who would've won had Case Keenum not missed an open receiver for the win, who by the way was open because of a secondary breakdown) a good defense can stifle the Kansas City offense for a decent amount of time, and if that performance is backed up by competent offensive play the Chiefs are beatable. A better version of the Broncos are the Jaguars, and that's a team that can end Kansas City's season. The offense can run the ball all over the Chiefs defense and Blake Bortles has looked less scared this year, not being great, but good enough to not make some of the same mistakes he used to. Also, Jacksonville's defense is basically a better version of the Broncos, and having two of the five best corners in the league does a lot to help stop the Chiefs endless weapons. I think that'd be a great game, but one where Kansas City would ultimately be outmatched. Because of that I can't positively say that the Chiefs are a Super Bowl team yet, although if there is improvement defensively I can revise that statement in the future. Overall though, this team has been spectacular to watch so far, and they should be an interesting story the rest of the season.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. After Week One of NFL football, I'm ready to break down what I've seen from the thirty two teams so far. I'll be going through each game and providing a small analysis of what I saw, but if there are bigger games that people want discussed, I'll make a more in depth article about that too. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow, and leave suggestions for topics down below.
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles:
This game was much more reminiscent of last year's divisional round match up between the two teams than I thought it would be. The defenses dominated the game, but the Eagles were able to fully shut down Atlanta's offense. The lack of Kyle Shanahan running that offense looks very apparent for the second straight year. On Philly's side of things, they can only be happy. With Nick Foles under center they just keep winning, even if they are winning ugly. Wentz will return soon, and then their own offense will return to form.
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins:
This was the longest game in NFL history, lasting 7 hours and 10 minutes due to multiple weather related delays. Tennessee saw three starters get injured in that game due to the hard hitting mentality of the Miami defense. Marcus Mariota was hurt, Taylor Lewan was hurt, and Delanie Walker was carted off and out for the season. Miami just looked better all game long, as they made big plays on both sides of the ball, most notably a defensive stand on a 4th and goal from the 3 yard line, and a 75 yard dime from Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills. Tennessee should be concerned about those injuries and their lasting impact, while Miami should be focused on building off of what many called a surprise Week One win.
San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings:
Jimmy Garoppolo was sent back to Earth in this game, after what was a flawless start to his career. For the first time teams had a notable amount of tape on his play, and it was apparent as one of the best defenses in the league made him very uncomfortable and forced three interceptions. What the Niners should be happy about though was the play of the defense, as that unit kept them in the game. Minnesota WAYYYYYYYYY overpaid Kirk Cousins, but they should be satisfied that he kept the ball safe yesterday, and avoided turnovers. Both teams have a bright future as this season progresses.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots:
I kept telling people to pump the brakes on Desean Watson, and nobody listened. He did not look good in this game, as he struggled to move the ball against a very average defense. Houston's defense was not satisfactory as they watched Rob Gronkowski torch them for over 120 yards and a score. Tom Brady's statistics looked good, but when you remove his throwing to Gronk, the production drops way off. This should be some cause for concern when they play teams that match up better with linebackers. Overall though, the Pats still look like the Pats, and Houston still has a lot to prove as every game is going to be important in their loaded division.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints:
FITZMAGIC BABY!!! Ryan Fitzpatrick is a first ballot Hall of Famer if a Hall of Fame existed for inconsistent backup QBs with legendary beards. The quarterback, filling in for a suspended Jameis Winston, threw for 4 touchdowns and added one on the ground (after which he did the Cam Newton Superman celebration which means I can now die happy). He posted a 156 passer rating, and lead a team I consider to be hot garbage to a huge win over many peoples Super Bowl favorites. The Saints defense, which was the key to their success last year, was awful, and everyone in NOLA should be concerned. It has only been one game, but that is not a good sign.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants:
I had the privilege of being at this game, and let me just say that what I saw is not going to show up in the box score. I watched Jalen Ramsey, who talked trash to everybody this offseason, encounter a real receiver. Odell not only had 11 receptions for over 100 yards, but he burned Ramsey and forced two huge pass interference calls to set up the Giants in scoring position. Luckily for the Jags, that wasn't too huge of an issue as they stopped the run outside of one amazing 68 yard touchdown scamper from rookie Saquon Barkley, and they consistently had pressure on Eli Manning. Bortles threw a pick early in the game, and Leonard Fournette hurt his hamstring (what a surprise!) which are not good signs for the Jags offense, but outside of that they still look really good.
Side Note: Erik Flowers is the worst player in NFL history.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts:
What stood out to me about this game was the ineptitude of the Colts defense. Joe Mixon, a player I like, but definitely don't love, ran all over this team. Luck was able to keep this game close, but the Colts were eventually locked down, getting shut out in the fourth quarter. They still have a lot of work to do if they want to even think Playoffs in the near future. For Cincinnati, they should be satisfied with the performance, as this isn't a Playoff team but they showed some promise.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns:
It really bothers me that Ben Roethlisberger gets off easy with the media after this game. "He didn't play well, but he's still a good quarterback," they say, when I just watched something that told me the opposite of that. People say it's the absence of Le'Veon Bell that caused the poor performance, but James Conner, his replacement, was outstanding. The last two years we've seen Big Ben have games like this multiple times, where even his stars Antonio Brown and Bell can't save him from looking terrible. Luckily the Browns are too inept to win a game themselves, so after a full overtime the game ended in a 21-21 tie, which I think is ridiculous--play until somebody wins it's only a sixteen game season. This game I guess is a plus for the Browns as it ended a seventeen game losing streak, but it's definitely a negative for Pittsburgh as they did not look good down the stretch.
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens:
Nathan Peterman is the worst quarterback ever. These Bills are possibly the worst football team ever. The Ravens basically had an extra preseason game this week, because pretty much everyone on their roster got playing time this week due to their being up by so much. This game was a joke. Moving on...
Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers:
Tyreek Hill is a god. I have zero knowledge of whether on not he's a fundamentally sound receiver, but it doesn't matter because his speed ruins games. He had 268 all purpose yards, seven catches, and 3 touchdowns. The Chiefs new QB might have the strongest arm in the NFL, and yet it's impossible for his to overthrow Hill since "the cheetah" can literally just run under the ball and make the catch. Kansas City's offense was spectacular, and their defense looked solid as well. The Chargers are going to have trouble making the Playoffs this year because they're in a very tough division and what I saw on Sunday was that Kansas City is going to win it.
Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals:
The Cardinals offense looks like a division two college. They couldn't move the ball until the last two minutes of the game, and that allowed Washington to control the clock with the run game. Speaking of the run game, Adrian Peterson was vintage as he now is top 10 all time in rushing yards, and he has over 100 career touchdowns. Peterson spearheaded the run game for Washington, and he did a great job helping control the clock. Alex Smith was under the radar good too, as he didn't really make mistakes and moved the ball effectively. Washington should be happy with his play, and Arizona should be disappointed with theirs.
Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers:
I've been saying it for years: fire Jason Garrett. How are you a head coach for eight years, and you forget to do what your roster is built for--RUNNING THE BALL. Ezekiel Elliot was barely involved on Sunday, despite it being a low scoring game, which usually encourages the run game. Dak Prescott didn't look very good as in my short period watching the game he missed multiple throws. Carolina's defense is often overlooked, but they're very, very good. This is a good sign for the Panthers, as they'll be relying on great defensive performances all year long as their division is filled with great passing games. The Cowboys showed me that they aren't a Playoff team, and I'm sticking with that until they prove otherwise.
Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos:
This was a good game I think for both teams, as they both showed that they improved in the areas that they needed improvement in. Denver's defense is even better, and they have a quarterback now! Case Keenum looked good, and backed by another good defense he could be comfortable all game long. Seattle needed running back help as Russell Wilson was literally 95% of their offense last year, and it looked like they got some of that yesterday. Certainly their ball carriers aren't elite, but Wilson was able to hit them out of the back field for decent pickups multiple times, and they had a solid ypc of 4.0. Both teams looked good, and it'll be interesting to see how their seasons progress after a good showing from both in Week One.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers:
Aaron Rodgers is the greatest player to ever touch a football. Words cannot do justice to what he pulled off on Sunday Night. When he was carted off of the field I thought I might as well call it a night, but I stayed up in hopes of seeing Khalil Mack continue to make ridiculous plays. Instead, I saw a one legged Aaron Rodgers come back onto the field and lead his team back from down 20-0. When Green Bay got the ball back with two minutes to go in the game, I closed my eyes and said, "I give it four plays," envisioning how easy Rodgers would make that final drive look. It only took three, as it was over on a 75 yard catch and run to Randal Cobb. The Bears have a lot to look forward to this year because they looked great in the first half, but the brilliance of Rodgers is unmatched.
New York Jets @ Detroit Lions:
Look at that everybody, it's another Bill Belichick coordinator who's not going to pan out on their own. Matt Patricia, a defensive mind, watched the Jets drop 48 on his team. Let me say that again--the Jets, a team with one of the least talented offenses in the NFL, dropped 48 on the Lions. Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions and was beaten up a lot which does not fare well for his outlook the rest of the season. The Lions have a lot of work to do, and the Jets now get to confirm their delusional fans' suspicions that "It's gonna be our year, I'm tellin ya. Super Bowl in New York!" (I don't like the Jets ridiculous fanbase very much, if you couldn't tell).
Los Angeles Rams @ Oakland Raiders:
The Rams are my Super Bowl favorites right now, and they showed why last night. The Khalil Mack-less Raiders headed up by Jon Gruden's offense looked great in the first half, leading 13-10 at the break. The Rams showed why their one of the best teams in football during the second half though, scoring at will, and sicking their defense on Derek Carr and the Oakland offense. I have to give credit to the Raiders, because I thought they were a five win team after the Mack trade, but they looked really good in the first half. The Rams though, clearly, have nothing to worry about as their offense stayed creative last night and they ran away with the game in the end.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. It's been a summer since my last article, but now that football is back I'll have a lot to talk about in the coming weeks. NFL news should be expected, as well as some articles commenting on some of the biggest sports stories of the summer. Make sure to share this article with a friend as it helps TTR grow, and leave any suggestions for future topics.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles:
Tonight's season opener I think is one of the most underrated matchups we'll see all season long. I understand that Carson Wentz is not going to be active tonight, and Nick Foles has been less than spectacular this preseason, but I don't expect that to have too much of an impact on this game. Without a doubt Wentz would give the Eagles a much bigger chance to win, but expect Philly's play calling to resemble what it did when Wentz was out last year: run the ball, throw high percentage passes, and on defense...send heat. Tonight the reigning Super Bowl champs are facing one of the most talent loaded offenses in the NFL, so this game is really going to be a test of the Eagles top notch D, and honestly, that's what this game was going to be about anyways. Sure, if Wentz was playing his return would be an intriguing story, but the game was really going to be about what could be the best defense in football going up against what could be the best offense in football.
Now that I've made my opinion clear about what this game is hinged on, I'll make my pick and explain. To be blunt, the Falcons are going to win tonight. I love the Eagles roster and think it's the best in football, but this Falcons team has been disrespected this offseason. In the majority of power rankings, the Falcons have seen themselves in spots 5-7, nowhere close to where they believe they are. This offense is ridiculous, and the defense is incredibly underrated. Tonight that defense should shine, because if they can slow down Jay Ajayi and the Philadelphia running game, Nick Foles is going to have to make the plays. I know Foles was counted on to step up last year and he delivered, but his track record shows that this won't continue for long, and even if it does, it won't be at the Super Bowl MVP level we saw last year. The Eagles offensive line is fully healthy now, but I just don't see that helping stop the Falcons rush. I believe this Falcons front seven holds the Eagles to under 100 total rushing yards, and that puts all of the pressure on Foles. Tonight, Foles won't step up as much as he needs to, and the Falcons stifle the Eagles enough to win.
The main attraction tonight, as I mentioned before, is the Eagles defense against the Falcons offense. Like I said, I don't think that this is what decides the game, but since this is where the star players reside on both rosters. The Eagles added former Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett this offseason, and still boast one of the best defensive tackles in the game in Fletcher Cox. The Falcons have one of the top three receivers in the game, Julio Jones, the best running back duo in the game in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and a top 10 quarterback in Matt Ryan. I expect to see the Falcons counter the loaded pass rush of Philadelphia by getting the ball to the two running backs I just mentioned, but not by handing the ball off. Matt Ryan should be feeling pressure all night which means less time for routes to develop downfield, so there should be a lot of quick routes run tonight, and a lot of dump offs to the running backs. When Philly does drop back in coverage, expect Ryan to use the opportunity to push the ball downfield, going for his big targets in Jones and Austin Hooper. In terms of who wins the battle, I think that Philly's defense will look great, but not as good as the Atlanta offense. I already predicted the Falcons defense to make an impact by stopping the run, which means that the Eagles offense should not be using clock as well as they'd like to. This means less rest for the Eagles defense, and a slight advantage to the Atlanta offense.
With all of this said, I think the final score is going to be 24-17. It's an offensive game, and a score of 24-17 is not very high despite all that I said about the defenses being the units that decide tonight's game. I think two touchdowns should be considered a lackluster performance for this Eagles offense as they put up less than that only twice last regular season (week 13, week 17), and once in the Playoffs (Divisional Round vs. Falcons). For the Falcons, I think 24 is a reasonable prediction seeing as I still expect them to put points on the board, although by no means do I think it'll be easy.
Hopefully tonight's game is an exciting one, and I hope everyone enjoys the first week back to football. Expect more articles soon, and more consistently as I'm back to a normal schedule again.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Tomorrow is the NFL Draft, and unlike everyone else, I only do one mock draft every year, and I do it right before draft night. I also make my picks based on what I think should happen, not based on what is most likely to happen. For instance, if the Dolphins (I'm a Fins fan) had Vita Vea and Quenton Nelson available at pick eleven, most mock drafts I've seen would have them taking Vea due to the departure of Ndamukong Suh and the addition of Josh Sitton. That, though, is a stupid pick because Nelson is worlds better as a player. Hopefully that helped you understand what I mean when I say I make my picks based on what's smart, not on what teams have shown interest in and displayed as needs. I've found this approach is actually much more accurate than the way other mock drafts turn out, so we'll see how I do this year. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow, and if you have any requests leave them in the comments below.
NFL Mock Draft:
Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC (For everyone who says Josh Allen is the better pick, I respond by saying that trying to make up for mistakes of the past doesn't work in the NFL. Just because the Browns passed on the unknown quarterback from an irrelevant college a couple years ago, a.k.a. Carson Wentz, doesn't mean they should try to fix that by taking the prospect with the same background. Allen is nowhere near the prospect Wentz was, and Darnold has shown himself to be the most complete prospect in the draft. I like Baker Mayfield more than any other QB in this draft class, but all signs point to Darnold being the most appealing to NFL scouts).
New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St. (Barkley is the most valuable player in this draft, and it's all because of how the NFL salary cap system works. I'm not going to get into that now, but I will in a different article).
New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (I think that Baker is the best QB in the class, because his leadership qualities and accuracy are hard to find in players straight out of college).
Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (Chubb is most likely the most impactful player available here, and a rotation of young, talented pass rushers for Cleveland will make the lives of AFC North quarterbacks much more difficult).
Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame (John Elway and Gary Kubiak both liked Case Keenum out of college, so what's to say that their signing of him this free agency wasn't just a placeholder for their QB of the future. Denver has the talent to win now, so by fixing a below average offensive line with a player that many consider the safest pick in the draft, Keenum will now have more security and play better football).
Buffalo Bills (Trade With Colts): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (I like Rosen, despite his controversy, and I think that with Buffalo's solid offensive line he'll have less to worry about in the injury department. Also, Rosen is pretty NFL ready, and since Buffalo proved they were a playoff team last year, a better QB could mean making it further into the postseason).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama (I think that Fitzpatrick is the most NFL ready and versatile defensive back in this draft, and as he said after the NFL Combine, "The tape speaks for itself").
Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State (Denzel Ward is the best pure cornerback in this draft, and I think that the Bears understand that to put less pressure on Mitch Trubisky, they need to have a solid defense).
San Francisco 49ers: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (Kyle Shanahan did a lot for Jimmy Garoppolo last year with very little talent on the offensive side of the ball. Now that the defense has been upgraded with the likes of Richard Sherman, it's time for Shanahan to beef up the offense).
Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia (The Raiders defense is atrocious, so they had to do something for this side of the ball. Smith is an incredible leader and playmaker who will help the front seven, which as of right now is only respectable because of Khalil Mack).
Miami Dolphins: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (I am not a huge fan of Josh Allen myself, but if he falls this far the Dolphins have to take him. Adam Gase wants to develop a quarterback behind Ryan Tannehill for at least a year, and since Allen is clearly a developmental project, this would perfect for Gase. There are more pressing needs for the Fins, but Gase will want the insurance in case Tannehill gets injured again).
Indianapolis Colts (Trade With Bills): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech (The Colts will trade back to acquire more picks because the have a LOT of holes to fill, and Edmunds will help their defense immensely).
Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington (Vea is a freak of nature, and Washington desperately needs help on the defensive line. Vea will help their run defense a lot and will also provide consistent pass rush).
Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (Jackson has possibly the best ball skills in this draft, and the Packers need to improve their defense if they want Aaron Rodgers to stick around. Jackson and Ward rank similarly for me as well, but I just think that Ohio State's marquee program helps lift his status to being selected first).
Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (Lamar Jackson is probably the most polarizing player in this draft, and is a huge risk to take this early. He'll be the fifth quarterback off the board, and despite his incredible athletic ability, Jackson suffers from accuracy issues. I think that his accuracy issues are similar to those of Josh Allen actually, but since Allen was in a Pro-Style offense and he has the stronger arm, he's going to be graded higher by every single team. I think that the Cardinals can't pass on a quarterback though, and since Jackson is available, that's who they take).
Baltimore Ravens: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland (D.J. Moore might be the best receiver in this draft, as he is an incredible playmaker. He operates out of the slot, though, and that usually causes teams to devalue a player. Baltimore is desperate for offense though, and since they've added a couple of receivers through free agency Moore will fit right in on the depth chart as the slot receiver).
Los Angeles Chargers: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (The man is a freak of nature, and he's dominated interior offensive lines his whole career. He's really too talented to fall this far in the draft, but since he does, the Chargers have to swoop him up).
Seattle Seahawks: Derwin James, S, Florida State (Derwin James is an incredible player and him falling this far in the draft is unlikely. I can see it happening though, and with the break up of the Legion of Boom, Seattle is going to need someone new on the back end of their defense. Not only does this give them a great player, but it gives them a cheaper option then old, beaten up, Kam Chancellor).
Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (Sutton is a big dude, and his play style is that of a Calvin Johnson. He's a clear red zone threat, and since the Cowboys have released Dez Bryant, they need someone new to work with Dak. This could be a great move for the Cowboys, but many people, including me, see a lot of bust potential in Sutton, making this a risky move).
Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College (Edge rushers are a commodity in the NFL, and I think that Harold Landry is right behind Bradley Chubb as the best in this draft. The Lions need support on defense to aid Matthew Stafford and the offense, so this pick makes sense).
Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame (McGlinchey is a rising prospect according to multiple reports, but I still don't see him getting inside the top 20. The Bengals need a new offensive tackle, though, since the departure of Andrew Whitworth in free agency two years ago has left a hole their for Cincy).
Indianapolis Colts (Trade With Bills): Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma (Like I said before, the Colts have a lot of holes to fill, and I see the offensive line as this teams most pressing need. Here, they get a new offensive tackle to protect an often injured Andrew Luck).
New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St. (OH BOY TOM BRADY IS PISSSSEEED. Bill Belicheck basically says "screw you" to Brady and Robert Kraft, goes and drafts himself his QB of the future since he was forced to give up his previous one...Jimmy G stand up...and sits in the draft room looking smug. No, Belichick isn't going to waste his time on winning now, that's Brady's job; Belichick wants HIS dynasty to continue, and to do that he needs a QB).
Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio (I love Davenport and I think that he's a great edge rusher. I think that John Gruden likes him too, so I could actually see him being taken with the tenth overall pick if the Raiders decide to go defensive end. If they don't though, I have Davenport dropping this far because I think that Harold Landry is a more complete player, and is thus a more valuable draft pick).
Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (I think that Evans is one of the most underrated players in this draft. He's a really good linebacker and offers great value, especially this late in the first round. The Titans have made a lot of moves this offseason, and I think that since their biggest splash was on the offensive side of the ball, they'll go defense first in the draft).
Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida (Bryan is a solid interior lineman, and since the NFL has seen that the best teams have deep defensive lines, the Falcons take another step in that direction. For the second straight year, their first round pick will be a player on the defensive line).
New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St. (Goedert is probably the best tight end in a very deep class at that position. The Saints are looking for more offensive fire power to match their young, talented defense, so this makes sense for giving Drew Brees another target to throw to. Also, the Saints just passed on matching the Ravens offer sheet to Willie Snead, so they need another pass catcher now more than they did just a week ago).
Pittsburg Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State (The Steelers defense really struggled without Ryan Shazier in the middle last season, and they clearly need more help their. I'm not saying that Vander Esch is Ryan Shazier, but it doesn't hurt to bring in somebody that can help stop the bleeding at that position.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina (Hurst is another great tight end in this draft, and his pass catching proficiency will definitely help a thin Jaguars offense. Allen Robinson just left in free agency this year, so Blake Bortles is going to need another big bodied target to throw to, especially in the red zone).
Minnesota Vikings: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP (Hernandez has great size and strength, and would definitely be talked about more frequently if it wasn't for the Quenton Nelson hype. The Vikings need to give their over paid new quarterback, Kirk Cousins, protection, as well as running lanes for Dalvin Cook when he returns).
New England Patriots: Justin Reid, S, Stamford (I think that Justin Reid is a really, really good player, and since he's still available, it's a no brainer for the Pats. After watching a backup QB torch their defense in the Super Bowl, defense is clearly the move).
Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Jones III, RB, USC (Ronald Jones fits right in with what the Eagles want to do. They love their multi man running back rotation, and Jones is a home run hitter with a lot of speed, and great hands. Along side power runners like Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, Jones will have a huge impact for the Eagles).
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. I'm here to talk about the Super Bowl today (sorry that it's taken so long for me to get this out), and I'm excited to analyze the biggest takeaways from the game. Also, make sure that you share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Okay, so first of all, I'd like to quickly note that I almost didn't include the first four paragraphs of my Super Bowl preview because I didn't know if many of you would care very much about the coaches on both teams. I am incredibly glad that I did write those sections, because now I can say that I beat everyone else to the chase. All that I've seen this week is how Doug Pederson had the coaching performance of a lifetime, and that it was his aggressive style that led Philadelphia to victory. It's Pederson's coaching style and decisions that made me pick the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, and I feel like I covered almost everything that he did right during the game in my preview (you can go check that out to see what I mean).
Anyways, this Super Bowl was one for the offensive junkies. This game had the most yards from scrimmage in a game in NFL Playoff history, and a game many said would be decided by defense ended up being a dominated by both offenses. The Eagles had a lot of success running the football, with LeGarrette Blount finding the endzone against his former team. Passing the football...lets just say Philly had more than just success. Nick Foles was absolutely incredible, throwing passes fearlessly into tight coverage time and time again, only achieving success due to his perfect ball placement. The man easily deserved Super Bowl MVP. Foles also caught a touchdown pass, although I don't want to dwell on that since everyone else has already beaten that trick play to death with praise (that play by the way is a great example of Pederson's coaching style).
Foles couldn't have had all of that success though without absolutely spectacular play from Alshon Jeffery, who I think deserves more credit than he's receiving. Jeffery came to play, making multiple spectacular catches. He deserves more praise than he's getting.
Zach Ertz also had a great game, catching seven balls for 67 yards and the games final touchdown. I said that New England would either game plan him or the run game out in my prediction, but obviously neither happened in what was the worst showing by the Patriots defense all year.
I feel like the Eagles defense doesn't deserve any of my time since they were disgusting, so I'm going to get straight into Tom Brady. Brady passed for 505 yards and 3 touchdowns, which on paper is by far the best quarterback performance in a Super Bowl. That's why on First Take, my favorite show on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Damien Woody both said that Max Kellerman was crazy for saying Tom Brady's performance starting next season is going to "fall off a cliff." I love both Smith and Woody, but they, along with the rest of the majority media, are really stupid sometimes. Honestly, how can football analysts go from saying "the tape doesn't lie" to completely ignoring the tape and looking only at statistics. What I'm getting at is that Tom Brady's tape was gross. He missed a lot of open throws, and the first half was apparently hunting season since he was heaving ducks all over the place. What Brady did have success with was the first two drives of the second half where he basically exclusively threw the ball to Rob Gronkowski (who is always open), throwing his same old dump offs and screen plays, and hitting receivers who had defenders not even within 15 yards of them downfield. Brady's stats are skewed from the number of wide open throws he had downfield, some of which by the way could have gone for touchdowns had he not been throwing so inaccurately.
So here is what I don't understand: How is it that analysis who watch football and report on it for a living can see the same game that I do, watch the same poor throws that I do, and then come back the next day and tell the nation that Tom Brady was, flawless, spectacular, and great out on the field when he clearly wasn't. I'm not trying to take away anything from his impressive performance, because it was impressive, but the lack of time and recognition that these broadcasters give to Brady's issues is astounding to me. By saying that Brady solidified himself as the greatest of all time by LOSING a Super Bowl, and on top of that ignoring the clear flaws in his performance is lying to the viewers. If any other quarterback had lost that Super Bowl despite having the greatest coach of all time on their side (with the exact same performance as Brady), their legacy would have been hurt rather than solidified. By the way, if Aaron Rodgers had missed those throws everybody would be talking about age catching up to him, since they weren't throws he'd missed in the past.
Now that I'm done with Brady, I want to talk about the Patriots dynasty moving forward. There was big news yesterday when Josh McDaniels backed out of the Colts head coaching job to remain with the Patriots, because Matt Patricia is also leaving for a head coaching job with the Lions. This gives the Pats way more stability with the coaching staff moving into next year, and that'll help a lot because of what I'm about to bring up:
The Patriots, multiple years in a row now, have looked old and slow compared to the top teams in the NFL. The best teams these days usually have a young, fast, big play offense with a solid pass rush, or they'll have an elite defense. That Patriots offense struggles when there is pressure on Brady because he collapses and makes poor decision due to his lack of mobility. The Patriots defense, although always in the top half of the league, usually the top ten, has looked slow against newer high paced and speedy offenses. All of this leads me to my point, which is that Brady and Belichick could only have a year left. With Patricia gone for good and McDaniels willing to leave (although he may now stay to take over when Belichick leaves), the Pats are going to lack continuity in the coaching staff, and that leads to worse performance on the field. On top of that, the majority of the Patriots top players are old and close to retirement. New England doesn't have a lot of time left, and although I'd be a fool to rule them out, the Patriots may have just seen their last Super Bowl appearance of this era.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Today is the day of the Super Bowl, so I'm here to give a quick preview of what I think will be the most important things to watch in this game, and of course, to give my pick. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
When you look back at the Patriots last two Super Bowls, the game was not won or lost on the field. I'd argue that both of those games were decided by those on the sidelines--the coaches. Bill Belichick is the greatest coach of all time, and I can't remember once in my life where he has made a mistake. Belichick thrives on opposing coaches making mistakes, and then finding ways to capitalize on that. In Super Bowl XLIX, Pete Carroll made the infamous mistake of calling to pass the football on second and goal from the one yard line, despite having the best power back in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch, on his team. In last years Super Bowl (LI), the Falcons came out in the second half playing aggressive, which is a great coaching decision, but when the game could have been sealed with a dagger field goal, on third down inside of field goal range Kyle Shanahan called a pass play. It resulted in a sack, and a punt on fourth down. Running the football would have taken at least forty seconds of the clock, and basically put the game out of reach for the New England Patriots. Instead, a coaching error lost Atlanta the game.
The most recent example of this is the AFC Championship game, when Jacksonville completely abandoned their short passes, screen plays, and outside runs. Those style of plays are what got the Jags their lead, but then in the second half they turned conservative, running the football almost every first and second down, becoming predictable. Being too conservative and running too much then cost Jacksonville the game.
I know that this seems like it has no correlation to today's Super Bowl, but I think it does. Over the years only one coach has been prepared enough to not make vital mistakes against Bill Belichick, and that's Tom Coughlin. The Eagles head coach, Doug Pederson, reminds me of Coughlin. He's aggressive enough to not fall into the trap of being predictable, and he's smart enough to know when to run the football (last game despite having a lead against the Vikings, Pederson and the Eagles started aggressive in the second half until running the ball when inside of field goal range helped run out the clock). If he can come into this game mentally prepared to not make the same mistakes as the previous coaches have, the Eagles have a real shot to win this game.
I think that the biggest part of Pederson being prepared is that it takes away a large chunk of the "fluke factor." The Patriots have a tendency to get lucky breaks, and usually that comes back to bad coaching. The calls that play right into the Patriots hands and undisciplined playing that leads to bad penalties can be directly correlated to coaching, and those two things are usually what give the Patriots a break. Pete Carroll's call to pass gave the Pats a break; Kyle Shanahan's call to pass gave the Pats a break; the history of bad pass interference penalties (Jalen Ramsey's from the AFC Championship game is a good example) give the Pats a break. Pederson is a good coach though, and I think he's disciplined enough to not make those same mistakes.
Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way I can talk about the actual players. For New England, this game is going to be won at the line of scrimmage. That can be said of basically every game, but it is especially important today. Tom Brady completely falls apart when a team consistently gets pressure on him, especially when defenses use the NASCAR package or when they overload the center (I'll talk about this in a moment). If Brady can't make good decisions, which is by the way what makes him such a great quarterback, then the Patriots offense will be in serious trouble. With the defensive line, they need to get pressure on Nick Foles. He's a backup for a reason, and on a big stage like this he could fall apart if he gets hit a lot. Also, the Eagles are going to want to rely on the run game, and the defensive line needs to be able to slow that down if New England is going to win.
This brings me to my last section about New England, which is what Belichick is known best for. When he game plans, he takes away what he sees as the other teams best player and makes you beat them "left handed" per say. For Philly, that means Belichick is either going to stack the box to take away the run game, or he's going to stop Zach Ertz. Ertz was one of the best tight ends in football this year, and he's been a security blanket for Wentz and Foles. In the red zone Ertz is a threat, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pats try and make him ineffective. If Belichick decides to take away the run game though, the game would be on Nick Foles shoulders, and as I said earlier, he's a backup for a reason.
For the Eagles, I think that this game is in the hands of their defensive line, and their three running backs. The defensive line will be working mostly to push the pocket straight up the middle near the center, since pressure up the middle bothers Brady due to his immobility. That style of pressure works well, and since Philly ins't overloaded with speed rushers, we won't see much of the NASCAR package (four defensive ends all lined up to get pressure purely with speed). In the run game, the Eagles need to have a lot of success. New England was 20th in rushing yards allowed per game this year, and the Eagles need to exploit that to keep the pressure off of Nick Foles. Ajayi is a good lead back, Blount should see a lot of work in the red zone, and Clement is a great receiving threat out of the backfield. I'd actually like to see Clement a lot today, because he can be a threat to pick up yards out of the backfield by catching the ball in the flats (basically what New England does all of the time). If these three backs can carry the offense, Foles won't have too much to worry about.
After everything that I've just said, I now need to get something off of my chest. I said before the NFC Championship game that the Eagles would win because Case Keenum had been playing really well lately, and he was bound to finally have a bad game on a big stage. He's been a backup for a reason. Nick Foles just played one of the best games of his career two weeks ago, and has been lights out these Playoffs. I've said it multiple times already in this article--He's a backup for a reason. With that said, I'm taking:
New England Patriots: 24
Philadelphia Eagles: 27
Just so you know, I'm currently laughing since you probably though I said all of that to lead up to me picking the Patriots. I'm taking the Eagles because the Patriots defense, although it definitely isn't a joke and they've been good since about Week 6, isn't an elite group. The Eagles defense, Vikings defense, and Jaguars defense were all elite and that's why they made it to the Championship round. The Pats are going to have some issues against the Eagles offensively, and if Doug Pederson doesn't make the mistakes of his predecessors, this defense can keep New England under 25. That opens things up for a solid Eagles offense against a solid defense, where the match up could go either way. Anyways, I think that some people are forgetting how hard it is to repeat as Super Bowl champions, although if anyone is going to do that again it would be the greatest coach of all time and his beloved quarterback.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. I've been gone for about a week due to a lot of work at school, but the past couple of days have been insane. I'm going to spend a little time today breaking down the trade of Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, and the trade of Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
To Detroit Pistons: Blake Griffin
To Los Angeles Clippers: Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, 1st Round Draft Pick
A lot of people overreact when big name players are traded for what looks to be a bag of potato chips, and although I spent three days this summer trashing the Jimmy Butler trade, this is not a situation to freak out about. Jimmy Butler is a top 10 player in the NBA; Blake Griffin was top 15 at his best, which was four years ago. That's why I was not on board with what the Bulls got in return for Butler, because none of what they got, in my eyes, has the potential of being that good. Blake Griffin right now is borderline top 20, and he can't even stay healthy. For a Clippers team that looks to have no future, blowing things up seems like the right idea. When you look at the pieces that the Clippers got in return, they gained Tobias Harris, a talented big man of the same position as Blake Griffin, and he's about 5 years younger. They also got Avery Bradley, who is a valuable trade asset if the Clippers try and move on from DeAndre Jordan before the trade deadline. The Clippers also got a first round draft pick, which is obviously important for a team that looks to be heading for a rebuild.
For the Detroit Pistons, I think that this trade makes some sense. Teams need to take risks in order to become great, and acquiring Griffin is a risk. I already mentioned that Griffin is not as good as he used to be, and he struggles with injuries, but this move gives Detroit one of the best big man duos in the NBA. That could help them dominate, and puts them really only one or two pieces away from being a contender in the Eastern Conference. Also, the acquisition of Griffin makes Detroit more of a free agent destination, and with the possibility of LeBron James leaving the Cavs soon, Detroit could end up being one of the top in the East.
Overall I think that the L.A.C. won this trade because I'm not a huge fan of Blake Griffin right now, because I don't think he is consistent enough to be considered a top caliber star. Like I said earlier though, this move is a risk, and if it pays off this trade will end up looking like a major W for Detroit.
To Washington Redskins: Alex Smith
To Kansas City Chiefs: Kendall Fuller, 2nd Round Pick
This trade completely turns the quarterback market upside down this off season (I can write more on this later on if that' something you guys would like). The Washington Redskins basically said that after years of franchise tagging Kirk Cousins, they still didn't trust him and couldn't justify paying him a big contract. That led them to go get Alex Smith who just had one of the best years of his career. The Redskins were willing to pay Smith though, as they immediately signed him to a four year $94 million extension. Anyways, concerning just the two sides of this trade, I have to give Kansas City some props here. They already knew that they wanted to start Patrick Mahomes this upcoming season, and they were able to get a draft choice and an up and coming cornerback (who I really like) in return for their old QB. They get a thumbs up from me.
The Redskins side of things I'm a little more concerned about. They just traded for an older QB than what they had rights to in Kirk Cousins, and Smiths production was close to Cousins when he had way more weapons around him. The lack of talent on the Washington offense is a cause for concern for me, and I think that's going to cause regression for Smith, and make him not worth his enormous contract. He is still obviously a way better option that most quarterbacks that the NFL has to offer, so I'm not trashing their side of the deal. I'm just saying that they have some cause for concern.
Overall I was very surprised by this deal, and I think its affects on the rest of the QB market and QB draft stock is going to be interesting. I'll try and get an article on that out as soon as I can, since it is a really interesting topic. For now though, I want to leave you with something that'll make you smile: The Browns tried to trade for Alex Smith but couldn't finalize a deal before the Redskins swooped in and completed one with Kansas City instead. I know...Cleveland is a mess.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. I have almost no time today because I’m in the middle of midterms at school and I have a basketball game, so I can’t elaborate on my picks. I just wanted to put them out there though so I can explain why tomorrow, as well as react to the games. Also, make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
New England Patriots: 24
Jacksonville Jaguars: 20
Quick Reasoning: I think the Jaguars will have success against the Patriots early, especially running the football, but when you’re facing Bill Belicheck, there are going to be a lot of halftime adjustments. That should slow the Jacksonville offense, and give the Pats enough to go to their second straight Super Bowl.
Philadelphia Eagles: 23
Minnesota Vikings: 17
Quick Reasoning: Home field advantage does a lot for a team, and Philly’s defense will make use of the crowd noise. Also, Case Keenum has been playing really well lately, and he’s bound to make a big mistake sooner rather than later. On the offensive side of the ball for the Eagles this will be a tough game but I think the run game will be okay, and Nick Foles will play better than Keenum.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Today I'm going to be analyzing the four games from this weekend in the NFL Playoffs, and giving what I think are the biggest takeaways. It was a crazy week of action, so there are a lot of things I want to go over. Also, just quickly before I start, I wanted to let everyone know I'll be posting more often and on my normal schedule from now on, and that I had to take an absence due to my holiday break, and then a very busy couple of weeks in school (exams are this week but I'll have time to write). Thanks for sticking with me, and make sure to share this article since it helps TTR grow.
Philadelphia Eagles (15) - Atlanta Falcons (10):
I feel like the story of this game was quite simple--the Falcons offense didn't show up. To be honest, I think that has been the story of their season. Ever since Kyle Shanahan left to become the 49ers head coach, this offense has fallen apart. Steve Sarkisian, the current coordinator, has relied on the run game all season, which I think is a smart move. They have two great backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. What I found to be ridiculous, though, is that heading into this game the Falcons knew they were facing the number five rushing defense in the NFL, but they made little to no adjustments. They came out running straight at Fletcher Cox, the second best defensive tackle in football this year, and the anchor of the Philly defense. Instead of attacking the flats in the passing game with wheel routes and screen plays, or running stretch and pitch plays to run away from Cox, they played right into his hands, as he ended with 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, and 7 total tackles. This inability to rush the football (Devonta Freeman, their number one back, had 10 carries for 7 yards) led to the Falcons ball control style (they ended the year with more time of possession then their opponents) to fail, and Philly's defense won this game.
On the Eagles side of things, this game was the defense proving to everybody that they can carry this team. Ever since Carson Wentz went down for the year with an ACL tear and Nick Foles replaced him, nobody believed the Eagles would win a Playoff game. This weekend their third ranked defense proved to everybody they can shut down some of the better offenses in the NFL. On the offensive side of things, there are some concerns though. Nick Foles looked shaky pretty much all game long, and he missed a sizable amount of open throws. Rushing the football, the team only averaged 3.0 yards per carry, although watching the game both Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount had punishing runs in which they picked up huge yards after contact. If the Eagles can rush the ball more effectively, and the defense continues to get to opposing quarterbacks (they had 3 sacks and 11 QB hits this week) they can continue their Playoff run.
New England Patriots (35) - Tennessee Titans (14):
I can't say that I'm surprised by the outcome of this game. I also can't say I'm surprised that the game would have been much closer if it weren't for bad officiating in favor of New England. The Titans had a 7-0 lead to end the first quarter, and they were pretty much executing how they had to in order to win--run the football, chew clock, don't let the Patriots get huge yards after the catch on their short throws. Then, after New England tied the ball game up, on a 3rd and 4 for the Titans, who were moving the ball with ease on the Pats defense, a pass to Eric Decker that picked up another first down was called back for offensive pass interference. Tony Romo, who was calling the game, spent the rest of the game highlighting how poor of a call it was, and the ramifications it had. Tennessee then had to punt the ball, giving New England great field position (they got the ball at the 47 yard line). New England went on to score, giving them a 14-7 lead. The next possession the Titans moved the ball well, but had to punt around mid field, pinning New England back at their own 9. The Pats then went on to go 3 and out, but when they punted the ball, the play was blown dead, due to a false start on the New England center. The refs then huddled, and changed the call to encroachment of Tennessee giving the Patriots an automatic first down. The replay showed that the Titans never crossed the line of scrimmage, and the Pats were guilty of a false start. New England went on to score a touchdown on that drive, pretty much ending the game for the Titans, as they were in a 21-7 hole. The refs basically spotted the Pats 14 points, and it completely changed the course of the game.
I'd like to say that I still expected the Patriots to win that game, because being down 7-0 isn't a death sentence. What I can say, though, is that the Eric Decker pass interference penalty was a death sentence to the Titans momentum, as they were poised to score at least 3 on that drive. Also, the encroachment penalty giving the Pats the ball back and another 7 points was a death sentence to the Titans entire game plan of playing ball control offense with a lead.
I hate the officials when the Patriots are playing.
Jacksonville Jaguars (45) - Pittsburgh Steelers (42):
Wow. Just...wow. I want to start by talking about the Steelers quickly, and then I'll get into the Jaguars. First off, this team needs some credit for not quitting. They fell into a 21-0 hole, and kept clawing their way back into the game. Two insane fourth down touchdown plays (36 yard pass to Martavis Bryant and a 43 yard pass to Antonio Brown) highlight the high powered fight from the Steelers offense. What needs to be said about the offense, though, is that they didn't show up at the beginning of the game. Their first three drives were a 3 and out, 3 plays and an interception, and then a turnover on downs. That did not help their defense which struggled all day. Speaking of the defense, people need to understand the impact of Ryan Shazier. Everything that the Jaguars had success with--mostly short passes to the flats and running the ball--was what Ryan Shazier was great at taking away. Without him this defense was pathetic and unable to stop the Jags. Finally, I need to mention Mike Tomlin. His "players coach" style backfired this weekend. He clearly wasn't strict enough with his players, as Pittsburgh was clearly already looking ahead to New England and not focused on their match up with Jacksonville. Also, his play calling decisions on their two fourth down and inches plays were horrendous. The first they ran a pitch to the right side, basically trying to outrun the fastest defense in the NFL. It went for a loss of four yards. The next try they ran a play action pass play to hit Juju Smith-Schuster deep. The play was perfectly covered, and it was incomplete. When you have a 6' 5'' 241 pound quarterback I would suggest running a quarterback sneak. Tom Brady has a tenth of the toughness Big Ben does, and he runs a QB sneak every time the Pats only need a yard. Lastly for Tomlin, with over two minutes left in the game, down 7, he elected to go for an onside kick rather than kick off, use timeouts (they had all three left) and the two minute warning to stop the clock and try and force a punt. I understand that the defense had not been playing well, but they would have been putting the Jaguars in a must run situation, so the defense could have just stacked the box. The choice to go on sides gave the Jags the ball in great field position, and they kicked a field goal to ice the game. Tomlin is to blame for the awful late game management.
Now that I'm done bashing the Steelers, which is where most people have been ending their evaluations, I want to give the Jaguars credit. Their offense was spectacular. Leonard Fournette had 109 yards and 3 TDs, giving the team the lift they needed on the ground, and Blake Bortles made throws to win the game when he had to. At the end of the game he hit rookie receiver Keenan Cole with a strike 45 yards down the field to set them up at the Pittsburgh 3 yard line. He played well yesterday, and if he can keep that up, the Jaguars have a really good chance to win again. For the defense, I don't know what to say. They played incredibly well except for a couple huge plays made by some of the best talent in the NFL in Antonio Brown, Leveon Bell, and Ben Roethlisberger. Those plays are what made the score so high, but when you watch the tape the Steelers were uncomfortable all game long, and they were forced to turn the ball over. This team deserves a pat on the back.
Minnesota Vikings (29) - New Orleans Saints (24):
This was the best game of the entire postseason. I just don't see how anything can top the ending. It was the first ever walk off in NFL Playoff history. I'm just speechless. I'll ignore the ending for awhile though, and start by talking about the Saints. They looked average in the first half of this game, letting the Vikings defense shut out the offense. The Saints defense, due to the offensive struggles, was on the field too long and let up 17 points. That wasn't the interesting part of the game though. In the second half the Saints stormed back, scoring 14 straight points (both were touchdown passes to Michael Thomas). Then, the Vikings offense got back on track, putting up a field goal on the next possession, making it a 20-14 game. New Orleans would go on to score another touchdown, see Minnesota score a field goal, and then the Saints would kick a field goal of their own, making it 24-23. Then the last play happened. Ignoring the insanity that was a walk off touchdown to Stefon Diggs as time expired, I'd like to say that this Saints offense may have seemed like itself in the second half, but it wasn't. This team was built around the run all season, with two running backs in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara who had over 1500 yards from scrimmage each. It was not a team carried by Drew Brees. Yesterday (and in their previous Playoff game) Drew Brees carried them. The team only had 80 rushing yards on 3.3 yards per carry, which is almost awful. Brees on the other hand, threw for 294 yards and 3 touchdowns (he had two picks but one wasn't his fault). Brees single handedly brought this team back into the game after a horrendous first half, and he deserves a lot of credit for that. That style of play isn't how the Saints have found success this year though, and I think people are overlooking that aspect of the game.
On the Vikings end of things, they played a great game on both sides of the ball in the first half, and then sort of fell off in the third quarter. The defense was solid though, especially in stopping the run. They had the third ranked run defense in the league, and they showed it against the best running back tandem in the NFL. The pass defense was good as well, with 8 passes defensed and 2 interceptions. This defense has been and should be able to carry the Vikings further in the Playoffs. Offensively, Case Keenum played a solid game with 318 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. The biggest play of the game was obviously that final play, which I'll talk about briefly now. Keenum deserves a lot of credit for that throw although he hasn't been receiving much. He placed it perfectly along the sideline, allowing Stefon Diggs to make the catch and have the option to step out of bounds and set up a game winning field goal try. If it weren't for Marcus Williams missed tackle on Diggs which allowed him to walk untouched into the endzone to end the game, that is what would have happened--Kai Forbath would have had to try and win the game on a field goal attempt with about 4 seconds left.
I want to quickly say something about the notion that the Vikings got lucky and would have definitely lost the game. Like I said earlier, Keenum placed the ball perfectly so that even if a tackle had been made on Diggs, there's an 80% chance he would have gone out of bounds. That would have set up about a 50 yard field goal try, which is most definitely makeable. Either way, the game came down to the wire if the Saints had won they would have earned it just as much as the Vikings did.
Welcome to The Truda Report everybody. Today I want to just quickly go over the biggest stories from Week 15 in the NFL. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow. Also, it's a busy time in school, so this may be my last article before I take a Christmas break, so if there's nothing else posted after this Happy Holidays to everyone.
Patriots Controversial Win Over Steelers:
I'm going to have a hard time not being biased in this section because of the hatred I possess towards the Patriots. I'm going to try and keep it short and simple. Everyone watching that game understands that Jesse James caught the football, turned his body up field, and dove across the goal line to win the game. Everyone also should understand, though, that the NFL has spent so much time messing with the definition of a catch, that by rule, technically, James did not catch the football. I've heard people say this is a Dez Bryant situation, so they had to stay consistent with the call. This is not a Dez Bryant situation because Dez was sprinting with the ball, didn't clearly catch it, and THEN make a move towards the endzone. Dez was running, tried to possess the ball in stride and made a move towards the endzone too quickly for me to believe he actually caught it. James very clearly caught the ball, had possession, and then turned his body up field towards the endzone. Unlike Dez, the play was not all one motion, there were two very different portions to the play. The NFL needs to turn back towards common sense in deciphering what is and isn't a catch, and less about confusing phrases that have multiple interpretations. Otherwise, fans and players will continue to be frustrated with the league and its officials.
Quick side note on this play as well--not only does common sense show that he caught the ball, but he crossed the plain (goal line) with the ball, so the part where the ball shifts in James's hands shouldn't even be looked at. The NFL's rules about what goes on in the endzone are also screwed up, so that's something they need to fix (I'll talk about that more on a later date).
Rams Smash Seahawks:
As Colin Cowherd said, "This was not a passing of the baton, this was the Rams yanking it out of Pete Carroll's hands." The Rams thrashed Seattle 42-7 at the Seahawks home field. L.A. looked younger, faster, smarter, more creative, and like a cohesive unit; on the contrary Seattle had players calling each other out on Twitter after the game was over. I liked Seattle coming into this season, but the injuries have proven to be too much to overcome, and the Seahawks are now faced with the question of whether or not they need to rebuild. They clearly can't keep pace with younger teems anymore, and I'm saddened and scared that this year could be the end of the Legion of Boom.
Lets all be honest now, and admit despite widespread predictions for the Jaguars to be good this year, nobody thought they would be THIS good. Their defense is the best in the NFL in my opinion, and the offense has found rhythm, especially since they seem to get the ball around the 35 yard line every time a possession starts. This team could be dangerous in the Playoffs now that it's official, and they're in. They could also be hosting a Playoff game for the first time in about 20 years. This is crazy, as one of the leagues biggest laughing stocks is now looking like a powerhouse.
Dallas's Win Over Raiders:
This was a crazy game to watch, as it was close all of the way to the end. The game was host to a mind boggling moment though, as the referees had to take a folded over piece of paper, slide it in between the ball and first down marker, and judge whether the ball was far enough for the first. The referees gave Dallas what was a crucial first down, but there was a huge reaction across social media, as a sheet of paper pretty much decided the outcome of the game. The game was also important in that it kept Dallas's Playoff hopes alive for another week. These hopes are also getting a boost because of...
Zeke's Upcoming Return:
This week Ezekiel Elliot is returning to the Cowboys from his suspension, and he could provide them a lift as the regular season comes to its close. This is a huge boost for a Cowboys offense that has struggled at times without him.
Aaron Rodgers Shut Down For Season:
Today Aaron Rodgers was shut down for the season, as the Packers placed him on season ending IR. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers took too many hits in that game, which is fair since he was sacked three times and hit seven times. After last night's win for the Falcons on MNF, the Packers were officially eliminated from the Playoffs, so I agree with this move, because the Packers should insure Rodgers is 100% healthy at the start of next season.
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.